A geo-engineered future and its flaws

Anujit Saha | Published: 00:00, Oct 06,2019 | Updated: 13:42, Oct 06,2019

Anujit Saha, climate change, Bernie Sanders, Justin Treudue, Abiy Ahmed, Amazon, Kazakhstan, climate march, climate action summit,

A representation of geo-engineering. - Britannica

Big fossil fuel corporations are investing in what can be called geo-engineering — an engineering process to manipulate the climate. Arguing that Ethiopia’s unprecedented reforestation or Bhutan’s negative carbon emission are not enough to combat big money monger corporations, writes Anujit Saha

ONE of the characteristics of the Asperger’s syndrome is difficulties in social interaction. And yet, Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish teenager diagnosed with Aspergers, unified a whole generation worldwide to interact and engage in environmental activism. Her rallying call for the unison is as simple and self-explanatory as ‘Unite behind the Science.’ She claims her autism is her superpower, and the success she had in communicating the urgency of the issue beyond borders just proves just that.

Activisms on issues which are easy for the general mass to conceptualise are argued to gain the most traction. It was easier for the working class and other interest groups to unify under the banners of increased wages, inclusive policies, better working conditions or institution of democracy. Climate change and its consequences are a bit more difficult to grasp due to its global implications.

For instance, a citizen in the landlocked state of Kazakhstan does not understand why it is absolutely necessary to care about the melting glaciers and rising sea levels. The Bolsonaro effect in Brazil stands as a testament to the fascination of the general mass for short term utilitarian benefits over long term supply side policies.

Moreover, it proves how people can so easily overlook the very monetary benefit they are addicted to when it comes to exploiting a reserve of wealth such as Amazon, for its incessant exploitation comes at a cost of a sustainable source of employment and ample resources to plan their long term agro based industrialisation using the unique and rare materials of the Amazon forest.

In comes Generation Z. The rising ‘woke’ culture implies that now there are more dimensions to important issues than there were before. They are the generation most doubtful of the power mongering rulers and competitive big corporations. They are also accepting of the unique challenges the most vulnerable groups face. Tired of hearing about the ‘benefits’ the baby boomers have left them by their advent of industrial revolutions and green revolutions, this generation evolved to debunk the masked and detrimental  implications of such development.  And the most evident repercussions of those developments were the apocalyptic models of the environmental chaos hidden beneath the tales of unprecedented progress. 

Moreover, the power mongering corporations are not yet done with their expansionary policies, which are evident when certain strategies to tackle climate change is conveniently supported and funded by these groups: one such field is geo-engineering.

Geo-engineers are dedicated to retract the greenhouse emissions from burning fossil fuels, and they act on the principle of damage control. Their field presents certain radical ideas such as having a widespread cover of aerosol in our atmosphere for a cover of coolant, and has other massive ambitions such as instituting large solar glasses as reflectors over acres of lands and communities. 

Chinese government had to take such defensive measures when its capital Beijing was choking in the densely polluted city air. The Chinese Communist Party exclusively stated and promised that their period of linear economic growth will be met by a period of stricter environmental regulations to reverse the impacts, a questionable promise by a country burning 50 per cent of the world wide coal reserves. 

Already huge green city building projects in Shenzhen and Beijing have been enacted for increasing energy efficiency, and other projects are involved with the storing of carbon in large artificial storage instalments — a process known as carbon sequestration.

Their western counterparts have taken the same role but in a more subtle manner. Large oil companies and big time capitalists are the major donors of the abruptly proliferating Geo-engineering programs in some of the top schools. Their claim is that just like engineering obstacles, climate is something that can be solved and manipulated using the laws of physics and problem solving and manipulative skills of engineers. In essence, they do not think it is vital for our climate to regain its optimum balance, but rather it has to adapt to our exploitation prone ceremonies.

But these nations miscalculate the impact they can have by mere retraction of their increasing emissions. Installing new carbon capturing technologies with tax payer money while clearing acres of forest areas (which do the same job for free and much better than the carbon sucking pumps) is a self-destructive process. Moreover current technologies are limited in its applications; they provide little context to what happens to the stored carbon or how to dispose it.

Ideas of spraying aerosol also raises doubt on the effect it can have on the ozone layer. Such evaluations of our actions do not seem so hard to conceptualise and yet the most influential leaders, even the most liberal leaders, have no regard for them. 

For instance, Canadian Liberal Party’s leader Justin Trudeau has shown immense enthusiasm in Canadian innovation for alternative energy sources. Yet his administration undertook the much debated Trans Mountain Pipeline initiative, which aims to increase its nominal capacity of oil movement from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.  Ironically, he states that the revenue from this pipeline will go into research and development for renewable energy.

Moreover, the indicators of the environmental decline are well in place. The biggest natural reserve in the world burned for days destroying acres of land and resources and homes of the Amazonian people. Periodic hurricanes have already immobilised the economies of Jamaica and Bahamas in North America. The permafrost of the poles is melting to release excessive amounts of methane to the atmosphere, leading to warming and consequent melting of the Arctic glaciers. millions of farmers of the agro based Indian economy are now displaced and unemployed due to their local lands being barren and drought driven. A Japanese heat wave hospitalised half a million people and killed thousands this year already.

The European Union needs increasingly more energy to heat their homes and buildings, but they are already seeing the end of the fossil fuel tunnel where there is little left to dig and extract.  Hence, they had little choice other than establishing an extension to the Nord Stream Pipeline which provides oil from Russia, giving Russia an unfair bargaining chip over the EU politics and trade deals.

The existence of coral reefs seems to be unlikely due to projections that at best they can save only 20 per cent of the reef if can keep temperature rise by less than that 1.5 degrees Celsius. Such problematic instances and imbalance in power are pushing nations to take into account the empirical evidences of their fossil driven mistakes. But scrupulous evaluation leads them to understand that the solutions a need global intervention. This complacence of direct action is further pushed when they notice their emissions relative to that of major polluters are insignificant. Left with no choice, these nation states go back to the cycle of systematic exploitation.

The heat is literally being felt by the people worldwide, and politics has hence been instrumentalised to address the heat. Bernie Sanders, a prospective Democratic candidate, has gained popularity amongst the people by supporting the radical Green New Deal — a rallying call to unify liberals who believe in social equality and ecological harmony. The Green Party in Canada, whose candidate Elizabeth May is a major contender for the upcoming Canadian Election, aims to integrate its economic policies with socially equitable policies. They aim to re-establish the indigenous communities, who have been subject to displacement due to state interventions into their lands and resources by previous governments, including that of Trudeau’s.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed launched the ‘Green Legacy Initiative — a record breaking reforestation project. They planted 350 million trees in about a 1000 designated areas with the purpose of tackling rising global temperatures.  The displaced inhabitants of West Africa are being given education about farming in other regions by UNDP and UN Women to gain self-sufficiency, something of great urgency as 8 out of every 10 climatic refugees is a woman or a child.  Bhutan has reached negative carbon emission rates. But it cannot only be Bhutan compensating for all the net positive carbon emissions of rest of the 200 nation states.

With the Climate Action Summit taking place this week, more than 4 million climate activists took their demands to the streets of New York, Paris, and Dhaka. Their demands and slogans are reflections of the oppression they feel universally and how they believe that failure to address climatic problems stem from the core flaws in our system and society. 

Posters saying ‘Destroy Patriarchy, not the Earth’ and ‘Burn the rich, not the fossils’ reflect the belief that these young aspirants have been brought up in a system of injustice and inequality.  The current ecological demise was foreseen by Marx himself, who had stated that the capitalist model ends up exploiting the two of their most valuable assets — the labour and the environment.  

Anujit Saha was one of the 4 million student activists who believed that a change is due and possible

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